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Whipping up sumptuous stew

Meet the popular lady chef, Annamma, as she whips up a delectable culinary spread for the Kerala Food Festival at Malgudi restaurant till August 24.

SUPER CHEF: Annamma treads the path that others avoided.

SIXTY-YEAR-OLD ANNAMMA, is a perfect example of a person who has stormed a male bastion — the stress-laden, challenging kitchen in a restaurant. She has the twin cities' food aficionados virtually eating out of her hand at Malgudi, for the ongoing Kerala Food Festival.

When asked about the daunting task and competition that comes from her male counterparts, "nobody can challenge me," she says, especially with her decades of culinary hands-on experience.

It has been a long fruitful journey for Annamma who entered the professional kitchen, driven by the necessity to feed her children. "I became a widow at 25 and had to take care of my three children. I left my village, Alaripada in Kayakulam district of Kerala, and went to Chennai to do a catering course at Bible Cooking House. I studied South Indian cuisine and later specialised in Kerala food," she recollects.

Post training, Annamma took up catering for meetings, club lunches and party contracts after which she went on to join the kitchen of Savera Hotels Limited.

FROM KERALA: Kathakali costume sets the right ambience.

"This has given me an opportunity to travel. I have been to Bangalore, New Delhi and several other places in the country. Now, I also train the chefs at all the restaurants I visit. My children often ask me to open a restaurant of my own but I am content this way and, of course, the management of this hotel chain is not willing to relieve me," she says. Annamma donates a major part of her earnings to the destitute and the old. At the moment she is content with the fact that she can feed an extended family, tailoring the menu for the Kerala Food Festival, with joy.

About the menu, Karimeen Pollichatu (pearl spot fish steamed in banana leaf) tops the chart for its delectable taste and can be eaten as a starter. Khulianchi rasam (crab soup) and Pachakari rasam (vegetable soup) are some of the options in the appetising soups. For the main course, Puttu (rice powder and coconut dumplings) and Malabar parota can be teamed with Atterachi churry (mutton curry), Annamma's special kozhi roast (chicken roast), Pachakari ishtew (coconut milk based curry with carrots, peas and other vegetables) or a thicker Malabar Aviyal (a drumsticks, coconut and curd preparation).

Wrap up the fare from God's own country with a delicious Pazha pradaman (banana and milk porridge), Cheru payar payasam (jaggery-based dessert) and Pal adapradhaman (rice porridge).

As for Annamma, her favourite meal is the Karimeen with boiled rice or Parota.

Drop in at Malgudi Restaurant, My Home Tycoon Building, 1st Floor, above Lifestyle, Begumpet, Tel: 55632277 for a taste of specialised Kerala food, for dinner (7.30 p.m. onwards) before August 24.

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